Honoring the fallen

Ludington Beverage President Willie Reed, Eric Janson and Dave Keuhner toast the memory of Navy Seal David Warsen.

Visitors to area bars and restaurants can buy a special ale and honor a fallen veteran in the process, thanks to Honor Brewing.

The Chantilly, Virginia-based company serves both a Golden Ale and an India Pale Ale (IPA), having recently entered into a distribution agreement with Ludington Beverage.

“It’s a brewery out of Colorado doing really amazing things,” said Willie Reed, president and owner of Ludington Beverage. “(They’re) doing really amazing things to honor our military, past and present. As Ludington Beverage, we’re proud to be a part of it.”

The brew, installed in Barley and Rye Thursday night, Sept. 17, honors Navy Seal David Warsen of Kentwood, who joined the armed forces in 2009 and was deployed in 2011. He died fighting for the country on his first deployment.

“After school, (David) didn’t know what to do,” said his uncle Eric Janson, who traveled to the bar Thursday. “He loved a challenge, it didn’t matter what. He was just a great kid.”  

Dave Keuhner, a partner of Honor Brewing who was also present Thursday, said everyone on his team is affiliated with the military. Keuhner lost his father after two tours in Vietnam. Many veterans, however, end up fighting another battle back home — sometimes with tragic results.

“Effects of PTSD are a serious issue,” Keuhner said. “There are 22 suicides a day... suicides (are) outweighing those killed in action.”

Keuhner hopes to help in whatever way he can, though he knows it has its limits. “We know we can’t bring them back but we can honor them... we can raise a glass to them.”

Keuhner said he doesn’t envy the next president, who will have to decide how to take on ISIS and maybe put soldiers in harm’s way again. “We’re Americans, we’re pretty powerful. We see something wrong, we fix it.”

A portion of every beer poured goes to charities benefiting fallen and injured veterans. The tap features a dog tag honoring Warsen’s sacrifice.

“It’s not about the money, it’s not about the beer,” Janson said. “It is about honoring David.”